Most parts of a deer are tasty, but only a few are tender enough for quick grilling. Most cuts require long, slow cooking to tenderize them and unlock their deep flavor. Brisket is a leading example. Coming from the animal's well-used chest muscles, it's a cut that's tough even on the tenderest commercially raised steer. On a nimble deer -- especially a wild-caught deer -- it's even more so. The meat is stringy and exceptionally lean, so braising it gently in your oven or slow-cooker is the best way to make it tender without drying it out.
Place the brisket on a cutting board and carefully trim away any surface fat or connective tissue with a sharp knife. Leave the thin layer holding the brisket's smaller two muscles together.
Place the brisket and a small amount of oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven. Brown it in the skillet at medium-high heat until it's well-seared on all sides. This step is optional, but gives the venison richer, more savory flavors.
Season the seared venison with salt and pepper, then place it in a deep heatproof baking dish or slow-cooker. If you've used a Dutch oven to brown the venison, that's also an appropriate braising dish.
Add onions, garlic, celery, juniper berries, bay leaves or other flavoring ingredients to the dish or slow-cooker. Pour in enough beef or venison broth to immerse the brisket halfway. Cover the baking dish and place it in a preheated oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or cover your slow-cooker and turn it on.
Slow-cook the brisket in your oven for three to four hours, until it's tender enough that you can easily twist off a morsel with a fork. In a slow-cooker, braise the brisket for three to four hours on the high setting or six to eight hours on low.
Remove the brisket from the baking dish or slow-cooker, and transfer it to a serving platter. Strain and thicken the cooking liquids to make a sauce, then serve the meat and gravy with your choice of side dishes.
- Professional Cooking; Wayne Gisslen
- Some cooks like to marinate the venison overnight or coat it with a dry spice rub, to enhance its flavors. A marinade can be especially useful in taming the stronger flavor of wild-caught venison.
- In a slow-cooker, don't check the brisket until you're confident it's done or nearly done. Lifting the lid lets out much of your heat and can extend your cooking time.
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